Principles and Procedures for Students Requesting Letters of Recommendation from Robert N. Gaines

1. Undergraduate and graduate students requesting letters of reference or recommendation from me should have undertaken at least six semester hours in courses under my supervision as instructor.  They should also have submitted at least one research essay for my assessment either as part of a course or as part of an examination or degree requirement.

2. Requests concerning recommendations for graduate education and academic employment should pertain only to the field areas of rhetoric and communication theory.  Requests concerning recommendations for academic honors and awards (including scholarships and fellowships), professional education, unpaid or paid internships, special educational experiences (including education abroad), and employment outside academia will be considered, but approved only rarely on a case-by-case basis.

3. Recommendations for graduate education should not be requested for more than five destinations in any academic year (i.e., 1 July-30 June).  Students requesting recommendations for graduate education should demonstrate general qualification for admission to a graduate program.  The default standard I shall use to determine general qualification will be a sum of 430 or more arising from the following formula based on the student's academic records (and current evaluation ranges for the Graduate Record Examination verbal and quantitative examinations): VGRE+QGRE+(Undergraduate GPA X 40); accordingly, in nearly all cases students must have undertaken and received results for the GRE prior to requesting recommendations for graduate education.  If a student can demonstrate that a graduate program to which he or she is applying employs a standard significantly different from the default standard, then that program standard will be substituted for purposes of evaluating the student's request for a recommendation to that program.

4. Letters of reference or recommendation must be requested at least thirty calendar days in advance of any deadline for posting or submitting of a letter.  When I have completed letters, I will contact students by email.  In any case where I have not contacted a student by fourteen days before a deadline, the student is responsible for notifying me of this fact immediately.  If I have not contacted a student by seven days before a deadline, the student is responsible for communicating directly with me by telephone or face-to-face about the impending deadline.

5. Once a request for a letter of reference or recommendation has been approved by me, the following information and materials must be provided to me in electronic format within three calendar days. (Students should not presume that I have access or otherwise maintain files of their professional and academic information for extended periods.)

a. The student's current resume or curriculum vitae

b. The student's relevant transcript(s) (transcripts need not be official)

c. Where a student has requested a recommendation for graduate education, the student's GRE scores (this requirement is waived in cases where the student demonstrates to me that the program to which he or she is applying does not require the GRE)

d. The exact title or name of the program, position, or award for which the student requests a letter of recommendation or reference (for example, M.A. program, Assistant Professor, fellowship).

e. The complete mailing address and either email address or fax address of the person and/or agency to which the recommendation is to be addressed (this requirement must be fulfilled even if the student is collecting letters to be sent together with an application)

f. A specific program, position, or award description pertinent to the letter of recommendation or reference (where criteria of evaluation for the program, position, or award are relevant, these must be provided as well)

g. The deadline for a timely posting or submission of the letter of recommendation or reference (it will be helpful if the student gives a date on which the student wishes for the letter to be sent or available for collection before mailing)

h. Where special forms or envelopes must accompany the recommendation, or where some special procedure is necessary (for example signature across a sealed envelope), a notice to this effect (plus the forms and envelopes) must be provided.

i. The student's complete contact information, including mailing address, phone number(s), email number, and--when available--a fax number

6. When the foregoing information and materials are not provided to me within three calendar days of my approval of a reference or recommendation request, the approval becomes null and void.

Last updated 28 September 2015